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Lashkar-e-Taiba
Dates of operation 1990 - Present
Leader Hafiz Muhammad Saeed
Motives Integration of Jammu and Kashmir with Pakistan after ending Indian rule in the state & propagation of pan-Islamism in South Asia[1]
Active region(s) India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Bangladesh [1]
Ideology Islamism,
Islamic fundamentalism,
Pan-Islamism,
Kashmiri Independence
Major actions Suicide attacks, massacre of non-Muslim civilians, attacks on security forces[1]
Notable attacks Jammu & Kashmir attacks; November 2008 Mumbai attacks (attributed to LeT members)
Status Designated U.S. State Department list of Foreign Terrorist Organization by U.S. (26 Dec 2001); Banned in U.K. (2001); Banned in Pakistan (2002); Related Jama'at-ud-Da'wah (JUD) party banned by U.S. (2006), sanctioned by the U.N. (2008)

Lashkar-e-Taiba (Urdu: لشکرطیبہ laškar-ĕ ṯayyiba; literally Army of the Good, translated as Army of the Righteous, or Army of the Pure) — also transliterated as Lashkar-i-Tayyaba, Lashkar-e-Tayyaba, Lashkar-e-Tayyiba, Lashkar-i-Taiba, Lashkar Taiba or LeT — is one of the largest and most active Islamist militant organizations in South Asia.

It was founded by Hafiz Muhammad Saeed and Zafar Iqbal[2][3] in Afghanistan.[4] It is currently based in Muridke (near Lahore, Punjab, Pakistan) and operates several training camps in Pakistan-administered Kashmir.[5]

Lashkar-e-Taiba members have carried out major attacks against India and its objective is to introduce an Islamic state in South Asia and to "liberate" Muslims residing in Indian Kashmir.[3][6] The organization is banned as a terrorist organization by India, Pakistan, the United States,[7] the United Kingdom,[8] the European Union,[9] Russia[10] and Australia.[11] As of December 2008 U.S. intelligence officials believed that Pakistan's main intelligence agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), continued to give LeT intelligence help and protection.[12]

Contents

Objective

While the primary area of operations of the Lashkar-e-Taiba’s activities is the Kashmir valley, the outfit is also active in the Jammu region besides having undertaken repeated and confirmed attacks in other parts of India and on Indian humantarian mission in Afganistan.[citation needed] The LeT's professed goal is not limited to challenging India's sovereignty over Jammu and Kashmir. The group's aims include establishing an Islamic state in South Asia and uniting all Muslim-majority regions in countries that surround Pakistan to raise jihad against all non-Muslim communities.[3][5][13]

The Lashkar-e-Taiba group has repeatedly claimed through its journals and websites that its main aim is to destroy the Indian republic and to annihilate Hinduism and Judaism. LeT has declared Hindus and Jews to be the "enemies of Islam", as well as India and Israel to be the "enemies of Pakistan".[14] In September and October 2009, Israeli and Indian intelligence agencies issued alerts warning that LeT is planning to attack Jewish religious places in Pune, India and other locations visited by Western and Israeli tourists in India. The gunmen who attacked the Mumbai headquarters of the Chabad Lubavitch movement during the November 2008 attacks were reportedly instructed that “Every person you kill where you are is worth 50 of the ones killed elsewhere.” [15]

LeT also sees the issue of Kashmir as part of a wider global struggle.[16] In a pamphlet entitled "Why Are We Waging Jihad?" the group defined its agenda as the restoration of Islamic rule over all parts of India.[17]

In the wake of the November 2008 Mumbai attacks, investigations of computer and email accounts revealed a list of 320 locations worldwide deemed as possible targets for attack. Only 20 of the targets were locations within India. Analysts believed that the list was a statement of intent rather than a list of locations where LeT cells had been established and were ready to strike.[18]

In January 2009 the LeT publicly declared that it would pursue a peaceful resolution in the Kashmir issue and that it did not have global jihadist aims.[19]

Though the declaration came publicly, there have been several further attacks carried out by LeT, in conjuction with other terror groups like Jaise-e-Mohammad, Indian Mujahideen and Jamaat-ul-Dawa.

Formation

LeT gained prominence in the early 1990s as a military offshoot of Markaz-ud Dawa-wal-Irshad.[5][20] In May 1990, as hostilities between India and Pakistan over the Kashmir issue and the Siachen conflict had increased considerably to be on the verge of nuclear war; a paramilitary organization, Lashkar-e-taiba was formed in Pakistan, with the sole aim of providing volunteers for the Pakistani Army aided militancy in Indian Kashmir. The logistical and intelligence support was provided by ISI.

It was at a time when militancy in Kashmir was at its peak (which had started in 1987), but most Kashmiri militants were secular nationalists who advocated an independent Kashmir as opposed to "secession to Pakistan" which the religiously-motivated militant groups advocated. Lashkar-e-Taiba was at that time the only militant organization whose aim was to forcefully secede Kashmir to Pakistan. It was formed in 1990 with the blessings and design of the then Army chief General Mirza Aslam Baig and the Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. The newly formed organization was assured supply of arms as well as veterans left over from the anti-Soviet Afghan War of the 1980s, as well as access to the training camps which were used to train the Afghan Mujahideen in the 1980s.

Most of these training camps were located in North-West Frontier Province (NWFP) and many were shifted to Azad Kashmir for the sole purpose of training volunteers for the Kashmir Jihad. From 1991 onwards, militancy surged in Indian Kashmir, as many Lashkar-e-Taiba volunteers were infiltrated into Indian Kashmir from the Azad Kashmir with the help of the Pakistan Army and ISI.[4] As of 2010, the degree of control that Pakistani intelligence retains over LeT’s operations is not known.[21]

Personnel

Organizations listed as terrorist groups by India
Northeastern India
National Socialist Council of Nagaland-Isak-Muivah (NSCN-IM)
Naga National Council-Federal (NNCF)
National Council of Nagaland-Khaplang
United Liberation Front of Asom
People's Liberation Army
Kanglei Yawol Kanna Lup (KYKL)
Zomi Revolutionary Front
Kashmir
Al-Badr
Al-Badr Mujahideen
Al Barq (ABQ)
Al Fateh Force (AFF)
Al Jihad Force (AJF)/Al Jihad
Al Mujahid Force (AMF)
Al Umar Mujahideen (AUR/Al Umar)
Awami Action Committee (AAC)
Dukhtaran-e-Millat (DEM)
Harakat-ul-Ansar
Harakat-ul-Jihad-I-Islami
Harakat-ul-Mujahideen
Hizb-ul-Mujahideen (HUM)
Ikhwan-ul-Musalmeen (IUM)
Jaish-e-Mohammed (JEM)
Lashkar-e-Mohammadi
Jammat-ul-Mujahideen (JUM)
Jammat-ul-Mujahideen Almi (JUMA)
Jammu and Kashmir Democratic Freedom Party (JKDFP)
Jammu and Kashmir Islamic Front (JKIF)
Jammu and Kashmir Jamaat-e-Islami (JKJEI)
Lashkar-e-Toiba (LET)
Jaish-e-Mohammed
Kul Jammat Hurriyat Conference (KJHC)
Mahaz-e-Azadi (MEA)
Muslim Janbaaz Force (MJF/Jaanbaz Force)
Muslim Mujahideen (MM)
Hizbul Mujahideen
Harkat-ul-Mujahideen
Farzandan-e-Milat
United Jihad Council
Al-Qaeda
Students Islamic Movement of India Tehreek-e-Jihad (TEJ)
Pasban-e-Islami (PEI/Hizbul Momineen HMM)
Shora-e-Jihad (SEJ)
Tehreek-ul-Mujahideen (TUM)
North India
Babbar Khalsa
Bhindranwala Tigers Force of Khalistan
Communist Party of India (Maoist)
Dashmesh Regiment
International Sikh Youth Federation (ISYF)
Kamagata Maru Dal of Khalistan
Khalistan Armed Force
Khalistan Liberation Force
Khalistan Commando Force
Khalistan Liberation Army
Khalistan Liberation Front
Khalistan Liberation Organisation
Khalistan National Army
Khalistan Guerilla Force
Khalistan Security Force
Khalistan Zindabad Force
Shaheed Khalsa Force
Central India
People's war group
Balbir militias
Naxals
Ranvir Sena
  
  • Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi - In custody of Pakistan military[24] - Senior member of LeT. Named as being one of the masterminds of the Mumbai attack.[25] Released shortly after arrest by Pakistan Government, prompting India and US to claim the arrest was an eyewash.[citation needed]
  • Yusuf Muzammil Senior member of LeT. Named as a mastermind of the November 2008 Mumbai attacks by surviving gunman Ajmal Kasab.[25]
  • Zarar Shah - in Pakistani custody - one of Lashkar-e-Taiba's primary liaisons to the ISI. An American official said that he was a "central character" in the planning behind the Mumbai attacks in 2008.[26] Zarar Shah has boasted to Pakistani investigators about his role in the attacks.[12]
  • Muhammad Ashraf - LeT's top financial officer. Although not directly connected to the 2008 Mumbai plot, he was added to the the U.N. list of people that sponsor terrorism after the attacks.[27] However, Geo TV reported that six years earlier Ashraf became seriously ill while in custody and died at Civil Hospital on June 11, 2002.[28][29]
  • Colonel (retd) Nazir Ahmad - A retired Army officer from the Pakistani Armoured Corps' 8th Cavalry , he had retired from the Army in 2005 so that he could serve full-time for Hafiz Mohammmad Saeed. He plays the role of middle-man between the Pakistan Army and Lashkar-e-Taiba.[citation needed]
  • Mahmoud Mohamed Ahmed Bahaziq - The leader of LeT in Saudi Arabia and one of its financiers. Although not directly connected to the Mumbai plot, the U.N. added him to its list of individuals that sponsor terrorism after the 2008 Mumbai attacks.[27][29]

Activities

The group actively carried out attacks on Indian Armed Forces in Kashmir and Jammu and still operates in the jungles in Pakistan.[citation needed] It is considered a well-trained group.. Its members undergo training in basic infantry skills and guerilla warfare for 6–7 months in camps in Pakistan-administered Kashmir and NWFP.They are often trained by Special Service Group operators of the Pakistan Army.[citation needed]

The group conducts training camps and humanitarian work. These camps have long been tolerated by the Pakistan's powerful Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency because of their usefulness against India and in Afghanistan although they have been instructed not to mount any operations for now.[32]

Alleged and confirmed attacks and confrontations

  • Some breakaway Lashkar members have been accused of carrying out attacks in Pakistan, particularly in Karachi, to mark its opposition to the policies of former President Pervez Musharraf.[8]
  • In March 2000, Lashkar-e-Taiba militants are claimed to have been involved in the Chittisinghpura massacre, where 35 Sikhs in the town of Chittisinghpura in Kashmir were killed. An 18-year-old male, who was arrested in December of that year, admitted in an interview with a New York Times correspondent to the involvement of the group and expressed no regret in perpetrating the anti-Sikh massacre. In a separate interview with the same correspondent, Hafiz Muhammad Saeed denied knowing the young man and dismissed any possible involvement of LeT.[33][34]
  • The LeT was also held responsible by the government for the December 23, 2000 attack in Red Fort, New Delhi.[35] LeT confirmed its participation in the Red Fort attack.[36]
  • LeT claimed responsibility for an attack on the Srinagar Airport that left five Indians and six militants dead.[36]
  • The group claimed responsibility for an attack on Indian security forces along the border.[36]
  • The Indian government blamed LeT, in coordination with Jaish-e-Mohammed, for a December 13, 2001 assault on parliament in Delhi.[37]
  • 2002 Kaluchak massacre 31 killed may 14, 2002. Australian government attributed this massacre to Lashkar-e-Taiba when it designated it as a terrorist organization.
  • 2003 Nadimarg Massacre 24 Kashmiri pandits gunned down on the night of March 23, 2003.
  • 2005 Delhi bombings: During Diwali, Lashkar-e-Taiba bombed crowded festive Delhi markets killing 60 civilians and maiming 527.[38]
  • 2006 Varanasi bombings: Lashkar-e-Taiba was involved in serial blasts in Varanasi in the state of Uttar Pradesh. 37 people died and 89 were seriously injured.[39]
  • 2006 Doda Massacre 34 Hindus were killed in Kashmir on April 30, 2006.
  • 2006 Mumbai train bombings: The investigation launched by Indian forces and US officials have pointed to the involvement of Lashkar-e-Taiba in Mumbai serial blasts on 11 July 2006. The Mumbai serial blasts on 11 July claimed 211 lives and maimed about 407 people and seriously injured another 768.[40][41]
  • 2006 blasts at Malegaon: The investigation point to the Lashkar-e-Taiba as suspects. They have had connections with Malegaon's radical Islamist organisations.[13] Alternate theories involving the Bajrang Dal as the perpetrators are also being considered,[42] however, no evidence points to the involvement of Bajrang Dal,[43] and the modus operandi of the attacks are more consistent with Islamist terror outfits such as the Lashkar-e-Taiba.[44]
  • On September 12, 2006 the propaganda arm of the Lashkar-e-Taiba issued a fatwa against Pope Benedict XVI demanding that Muslims assassinate him for his controversial statements about the prophet Muhammad.[45]
  • On September 16, 2006, a top Lashkar-e-Taiba militant, Abu Saad, was killed by the troops of 9-Rashtriya Rifles in Nandi Marg forest in Kulgam. Saad belongs to Lahore in Pakistan and also oversaw LeT operations for the past three years in Gul Gulabhgash as the outfit's area commander. Apart from a large quantity of arms and ammunition, high denomination Indian and Pakistani currencies were also recovered from the slain militant.[46]
  • In November 2008, Lashkar-e-Taiba was the primary suspect behind the Mumbai attacks but denied any part.[47] The lone surviving gunman, Ajmal Amir Kasab, captured by Indian authorities admitted the attacks were planned and executed by the organization.[48][49] US intelligence sources confirmed that their evidence suggested Lashkar-e-Taiba is behind the attacks.[50] A July 2009 report from Pakistani investigators confirmed that LeT was behind the attack.[51]
  • On 7 December 2008, under pressure from USA and India, the Pakistan Army launched an operation against LeT and Jamat-ud-Dawa to arrest people suspected of 26/11 Mumbai attacks.[52][53]
  • In August 2009, LeT issued an ultimatum to impose Islamic dress code in all colleges in Jammu and Kashmir, sparking fresh fears in the tense region.[54]
  • News sources have reported that members of LeT were planning to attack the U.S. and Indian embassies in Dhaka, Bangladesh, on November 26, 2009, to coincide with the one-year anniversary of the November 2008 Mumbai attacks. At least seven men have been arrested in connection to the plot, including a senior member of LeT.[15]
  • Two Chicago residents, David Coleman Headley and Tahawwur Hussain Rana, were allegedly working with LeT in planning an attack against the offices and employees of Jyllands-Posten, a Danish newspaper that published controversial cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad. Indian news sources have also implicated the men in the November 2008 Mumbai attacks and in LeT’s Fall 2009 plans to attack the U.S. and Indian embassies in Bangladesh.[55]

Funding

Until 2002 the group collected funds through public fundraising events usually using charity boxes in shops and mosques.[56] The outfit also collects donations from the Pakistani immigrant community in the Persian Gulf and United Kingdom, Islamic Non-Governmental Organisations, and Pakistani and Kashmiri businessmen.[13][57] Lashkar-e-Taiba operatives have also been apprehended in India, where they have been obtaining funds from sections of the Muslim Community.[58]

Reports also indicate that the LeT receives considerable financial, material and other forms of assistance from the Pakistan government, routed primarily through the ISI.[59]

Use of charity aid to fund operations

LeT assisted victims after the 2005 Kashmir earthquake. In many instances, they were the first on the scene, arriving before the army or other civilians.[60]

A large amount of funds collected among the Pakistani expatriate community in Britain to aid victims of the earthquake were funneled for the activities of Lashkar-e-Taiba although the donors were unaware. About £5 million were collected, but more than half of the funds were directed towards LeT rather than towards relief efforts. Intelligence officials stated that some of the funds were used to prepare for an attack that would have detonated explosives on board transatlantic airflights.[61] Other investigations also indicated the aid given for earthquake victims was directly involved to expand Lashkar-e-Taiba's activities within India.[62]

External relationships

Role in India-Pakistan relations

LeT attacks have increased tensions in the already contentious relationship between India and Pakistan. Part of the LeT strategy may be to deflect the attention of Pakistan's military away from the tribal areas and towards its border with India. Attacks in India also aim to exacerbate tensions between India's Hindu and Muslim communities and help LeT recruitment strategies in India.[16]

LeT cadres have also been arrested in different cities of India. On May 27, a LeT militant was arrested from Hajipur in Gujarat. On August 15, 2001, a LeT militant was arrested from Bhatinda in Punjab.[citation needed]

Allegations of ISI involvement

Pakistan’s security agencies are reported to have provided training to the outfit.

According to the declaration of LeT operatives, the Pakistan Army from its 12th Infantry Division based in Azad Kashmir aids members of the outfit in their infiltration, extraction and clashes with Indian security forces around the Line of Control (LoC) by providing covering fire.[63]

The LeT was also reported to have been directed by the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) to widen its network in the Jammu region where a considerable section of the populace comprised Punjabis. The LeT has a large number of activists who hail from Pakistani Punjab and can thus effectively penetrate into Jammu society.[64]

A December 13, 2001 news report cited a LeT spokesperson as saying that the outfit wanted to avoid a clash with the Pakistani government. He claimed a clash was possible because of the suddenly conflicting interests of the government and of the militant outfits active in Jammu and Kashmir even though the government had been an ardent supporter of Muslim freedom movements, particularly that of Kashmir.[65]

Pakistan denies giving orders to Lashkar-e-Taiba's activities. However, the Indian government and many non-governmental think-tanks allege that the Pakistani ISI is involved with the group.[13] The situation with LeT causes considerable strain in Indo-Pakistani relations, which are already mired in suspicion and mutual distrust.

Role in Afghanistan

The Lashkar-e-Taiba was created to participate in the Mujahideen conflict against the Najibullah regime in Afghanistan. In the process, the outfit developed deep linkages with Afghanistan and has several Afghan nationals in its cadre. The outfit had also cultivated links with the former Taliban regime in Afghanistan and also with Osama bin Laden and his Al Qaeda network. Even while refraining from openly displaying these links, the LeT office in Muridke was reportedly used as a transit camp for third country recruits heading for Afghanistan.[66]

Guantanamo detainee Khalid Bin Abdullah Mishal Thamer Al Hameydani's Combatant Status Review Tribunal said that he had received training via Lashkar-e-Taiba.[67]

The Combatant Status Review Tribunals of Taj Mohammed and Rafiq Bin Bashir Bin Jalud Al Hami, and the Administrative Review Board hearing of Abdullah Mujahid and Zia Ul Shah allege that they too were members or former members of Lashkar-e-Taiba.[68][69][70][71]

Links with other militant groups

While the primary focus for the Lashkar is the operations in Indian Kashmir, it has frequently provided support to other international terrorist groups. Primary among these is the Al-Qaeda Network in Afghanistan. LeT members also have been reported to have engaged in conflicts in the Philippines, Bosnia, the Middle East and Chechnya.[72]

Al-Qaeda

  • The Lashkar is claimed to have operated a military camp in post-September 11 Afghanistan, and extending support to the ousted Taliban regime.[citation needed] The outfit had claimed that it had assisted the Taliban militia and Osama bin Laden's Al-Qaeda network in Afghanistan during November and December 2002 in their fight against the US-aided Northern Alliance.[citation needed]
  • A leading Al-Qaeda operative Abu Zubaydah, who became operational chief of Al-Qaeda after the death of Mohammed Atef, was caught in a Lashkar safehouse at Faislabad in Pakistan.[73]
  • A news report in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks in the U.S. has indicated that the outfit provides individuals for the outer circle of bin Laden’s personal security.[citation needed]
  • Other notable al-Qaeda operatives said to have received instruction and training in LeT camps include David Hicks, Richard Reid and Dhiren Barot.[73]
  • Aslam Murtuza Idrisi one of the terrorist member, born in Hyderabad. He was inprisoned for 20 years. Charged for killing a minor at the age of four.[citation needed]

Jaish-e-Mohammed

News reports, citing security forces, said that the latter suspect that in the December 13, 2001 attack on India’s Parliament in New Delhi, a joint group from the LeT and the Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) were involved. The attack precipitated the 2001-2002 India-Pakistan standoff.

Hizb-ul-Mujahideen

The Lashkar is reported to have conducted several of its major operations in tandem with the Hizb-ul-Mujahideen.

Students Islamic Movement of India

The LeT has also built contacts with other Islamist militant outfits active in India.

Ties to Attacks in the United States

  • The Markaz campus at Muridke in Lahore, its headquarters, was used as a hide-out for both Ramzi Yousef, involved in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, and Mir Aimal Kansi, convicted and executed for the January 1993 killing of two Central Intelligence Agency officers outside the agency’s headquarters in Langley, Virginia.[74]
  • A group of men dubbed the Virginia Jihad Network attended LeT training camps and were convicted in 2006 of conspiring to provide material support to the LeT.[75] The leader of the group, Ali al-Timimi, urged the men to attend the LeT camps and to “go abroad to join the mujahideen engaged in violent jihad in Afghanistan.” The men also trained with weapons in Virginia.[76]
  • Two U.S. citizens, Syed Haris Ahmed and Ehsanul Sadequee were arrested in 2006 for attempting to join LeT. Ahmed traveled to Pakistan in July 2005 to attend a terrorist training camp and join LeT. The men also shot videos of U.S. landmarks in the Washington, D.C. area for potential terrorist attacks. They were convicted in Atlanta during the summer of 2009 for conspiring to provide material support to terrorists.[77]
  • U.S. citizen Ahmad Abousamra was indicted in November 2009 for providing material support to terrorists. He allegedly went to Pakistan in 2002 to join the Taliban and LeT, but failed.[78]

Designation as terrorist group

Lashkar-e-Taiba had links to Jama'at-ud-Da'wah, however Jama'at-ud-Da'wah publicly retracted any association with them after the United States Department of State declared Lashkar-e-Taiba to be a terrorist organisation.[citation needed]

On March 28, 2001, in Statutory Instrument 2001 No. 1261, British Home Secretary Jack Straw designated the group a Proscribed Terrorist Organization under the Terrorism Act 2000.[79][80]

On December 5, 2001, the group was added to the Terrorist Exclusion List. In a notification dated December 26, 2001, United States Secretary of State Colin Powell, designated Lashkar-e-Taiba a Foreign Terrorist Organisation.

Lashkar-e-Taiba was banned in Pakistan on January 12, 2002.[8]

It is banned in India as a designated terrorist group under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.[81]

It was listed as a terrorist organisation in Australia under the Security Legislation Amendment (Terrorism) Act 2002 on 11 April 2003 and was re-listed 11 April 2005 and 31 March 2007.[82][83]

On 2 May it was placed on the Consolidated List established and maintained by the Committee established by United Nations Security Council Resolution 1267 as an entity associated with al-Qaeda.[citation needed]

See also

References

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  2. ^ The 15 faces of terrorRediff.com
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